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Blood, Sex, And Family

Kathryn Bigelow’s vampire western ‘Near Dark’ is “fun times”

John DeVore
7 min readOct 21


I didn’t see the vampire western Near Dark when it came out in 1987. I didn’t see most of the iconic movies that came out that year: Robocop, Predator, Full Metal Jacket. However, I did see Masters of the Universe in the theater that summer, a big-budget adaptation of the afterschool cartoon series based on a popular line of action figures.

I was a boy in 1987. A newly minted teenager. Thirteen years old. I was full of fear and hormones, and for the first time, I was noticing the adult world, and I didn’t like what I saw. That was a plague year. Finally, a global health emergency was declared—a pandemic.

I remember that year because suddenly, the world was openly talking about a fatal disease that could be transmitted through intimate contact or intravenous drug use.

I was made aware of so much of this because there was a young biology teacher in my Junior High who talked openly about things she was told not to talk about, and I think, eventually, she stopped talking about those things because she needed the job.

But she tried to tell us the truth. Adults don’t know what they’re doing. They lie when scared. This disease wasn’t new, and it had been around for years, decimating gay communities in big cities like San Francisco and New York. It was an apocalypse. For years, good Christian conservatives were more than happy to shun these human beings, to ignore their suffering, and to let them die in the shadows.

Then things started to change.

In 1987, the US refused to admit HIV-infected immigrants and tourists. In Florida, arsonists torched the home of a family with three HIV-positive sons with hemophilia who contracted the virus through blood transfusions. After years of ignoring the deaths of thousands of Americans, Republican President Ronald Reagan begrudgingly gave his first speech addressing AIDS.

It was a busy year. Beloved entertainer Liberace died. At first, the news says he died of a heart attack, but an autopsy reveals he had died of AIDS-related illnesses. I had first seen the beloved entertainer on The Muppet Show.



John DeVore

I created Humungus, a blog about pop culture, politics, and feelings. Support the madness: